In a major upset, Chris Kreider’s Boston College lost to Colorado College in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, and thus their season is over. Once each player’s college season ends is when they have to start making decisions about whether to go pro or not. We discussed earlier in the year how the Rangers tried hard to get Kreider signed last summer and will do the same again. However, Kreider claimed he didn’t “even want to think about” whether he wants to sign or stay in BC until after his season ended. Well, it has ended. It’s time for a decision. Right winger Cam Atkinson, who was the leading scorer for BC this season, has already decided to leave BC and sign with the Blue Jackets. Jimmy Hayes, who is Chicago property, played on the second line with Kreider the whole season, and he too is a candidate to leave BC. For what it’s worth, the Boston Herald claims that Kreider is “considering moving to the pros.” While Atkinson did sign quickly, I believe that Kreider might take a while to make his decision. For all I know a contract is signed tomorrow, but given the fact that he’s only a sophomore and was non-committal to whether he was going pro after this season, I think he might take some time. Atkinson signing is likely a good thing for the Rangers, and if Hayes goes to Toronto then the Rangers are in a very good position to sign Kreider. Kreider will be considering BC’s chances of winning another championship, and if most of the top talent on the team returns then he might be more inclined to stay. Ryan McDonagh mentioned at the beginning of the year that guys like Derek Stepan, Brendan Smith, and Blake Geoffrion deciding to leave Wisconsin and go pro was a big factor in him deciding to forego his senior year and sign with the Rangers.
Max Campbell’s Western Michigan was also eliminated from the tournament in the first round. We’ll have to wait and see if the Rangers decide to offer him a contract. After having a mediocre junior season last year, Campbell put himself back on the radar with 35 points in 42 games this season. Still, there are questions on if his offense will translate to the NHL level, and how the rest of his game will round out.
Henrik Lundqvist was named the third star of the week by the NHL. Lundqvist went 2-0-1 and let in only one goal. Two of the three starts were shutouts. With the shutout against Boston he now has 11 on the season, which are the most he’s ever had in a season and puts him at the top of the league in shutouts. He’s Vezina candidate for sure.
Finally, a congratulations to Derek Stepan for scoring his 20th goal of the season against Boston. Many people believed Stepan would start the season in the AHL, or at least play there at some point this season. The college season is also only 40-50 games, so there were also doubts he would have the stamina required to compete in all 82 games of the NHL regular season (and don’t forget the playoffs later). Stepan has not only proven those people wrong, but also surpassed the expectations most people could realistically hold of him. I think we all would have been satisfied with even 12 goals. Stepan is the first Rangers rookie to score 20 goals since Petr Prucha scored 30 during the 2005-2006 season. Let’s watch the first three of his career in celebration!